Nida poll a wake-up call
The latest opinion poll conducted by the National Institute for Development Administration (Nida) shows a worrying trend in Thai politics, with public hopes in politicians and political parties quickly going down the drain. This, however, should hardly come as a surprise.
The poll found most respondents, or 41.6%, do not support any parties. The Pheu Thai Party received the biggest support from respondents at 19.3%, followed by the Move Forward Party at 12.7% and Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) -- a key member of the ruling coalition -- at 12.4%.
Meanwhile, the Democrat Party, which is not only the oldest political party in the country but also a member of the government coalition, almost disappeared completely from the poll radar.
The poll -- the third to be held since December -- comes at a turbulent time for Pheu Thai, which is in disarray following the resignation of Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, the party's chief strategist, along with several other key party members.
Even though the polls showed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was preferred by the public when compared to other party leaders, his approval rating at 18.6% is far from impressive.
More importantly, over half the respondents said they did not see any suitable PM candidate among current politicians -- a slap in the face for the army chief-turned-politician and other regime leaders.
Khunying Sudarat trailed behind Gen Prayut, at 10.57%. Approval for the prime minister was down significantly from 25.47% last June.
The results are in sharp contrast to the figures seen during last year's elections when voter turnout reached historic highs at 74%. If anything, the poll seems to suggest the reason behind the quick disappearance of political enthusiasm is the growing distrust of lawmakers and the parties they belong to, as well as their performance over the year.
When Nida conducted the poll, the country was gripped by conflicts and protests surrounding the push to amend the nation's constitution. To be fair, the results would have been worse if the poll was carried out after the charter rewrite vote had taken place, as the degree of distrust would be off the charts.
Indeed, there has been hardly any good news in the political arena in past weeks, if not months.
Take, for instance, the turbulence at the PPRP, which resulted in the resignation of then-party leader and Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana. The rest of the government's economic team quit soon after, followed by the resignation of Somkid Jatusripitak as deputy prime minister in July.
The fact that Predee Daochai, Mr Uttama's successor, packed his bags after less than a month in office, further perplexed the public, which led to speculation that Mr Predee quit because he could not handle the political baggage and vested interests that come with the post.
The anti-dictatorship rallies led by students since August further attested to the fact that the country is still deeply divided and showed how farcical the promises of reconciliation made by Gen Prayut when he staged the coup in 2014 have turned out to be.
The latest poll figures should serve as a wake-up call for both Gen Prayut and career politicians, as they have somehow managed to fail the public -- in particular, their supporters -- in such a short time after last year's elections. They must do everything in their power to overhaul the system and prove that democracy will be a long-lasting solution for the country. And they must do so quickly before it is too late.
Bangkok Post editorial column
These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.
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